LYLE STAYS ON TO SHARE THE LOVE

Goal ace so keen to feel pas­sion

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Sam El­liott

IT WAS fast ap­proach­ing 10.45pm on Tues­day night and the size of the chal­lenge of fetch­ing Lyle Tay­lor to ful­fil his me­dia du­ties had just be­come ap­par­ent.

As he waded through the still rammed, beer-soaked Kingsmeadow main bar, the hud­dle sur­round­ing AFC Wim­ble­don’s man of the mo­ment wasn’t go­ing any­where fast.

An in­tox­i­cated Dons fans slipped on a spillage he prob­a­bly cre­ated him­self af­ter his group of five de­layed our in­ter­view even longer with an­other photo on the stage.

My out­stretched arm saved the day. He scut­tled off laugh­ing and his friends poked fun. Tay­lor, clutch­ing a large bot­tle of cham­pagne given to him 45 min­utes ear­lier for his man-ofthe-match per­for­mance against MK Dons, watched on wide eyed at the rab­ble in front of him as he smiled at the state of the sup­porter on a school night.

Not that he doesn’t know why a few were a lit­tle worse for wear. That he to­tally gets.

It takes an­other ten min­utes to shoe­horn the striker away from the selfie-hunters.

Jour­nal­ists could only wish the AFC Wim­ble­don play­ers were af­forded the same twoman se­cu­rity team that each of the MK Dons play­ers were given.

A hero be­fore, an icon come full-time. His dis­play and goal dur­ing the grudge match to end all grudge matches added an­other part to the story which keeps on giv­ing.

The up­starts from south west Lon­don’s first-ever vic­tory against the club which, to all in­tents and pur­poses, bought their Foot­ball League place 15 years ago penned its own, most emo­tional chap­ter yet. Start­ing at level nine of the Pyra­mid in 2002, rein­car­nated, AFC Wim­ble­don moved six points in front of the club they dub ‘Fran­chise FC’.

The club the FA in­structed not to form had ticked yet an­other box. Never has a midtable match at­tracted this much in­ter­est.

“Tonight I saw grown men cry­ing,” said Tay­lor, who scored at Wem­b­ley to take the team to pro­mo­tion against Ply­mouth Ar­gyle last May. “Grown men don’t cry un­less it’s some­thing big.

“I had a quick chat with the club’s psy­chol­o­gist af­ter­wards and he told me that’s three of the club’s big­gest oc­ca­sions and I have been the one to score. It’s an ab­so­lute hon­our and I’m so proud. “We work so hard to cre­ate th­ese days and to bring a smile to th­ese fans’ faces. “We knew how it would make them feel to win this. We feel it, too. “I had a one-to-one with Ivor Heller (co-founder of AFC) a few months af­ter I ar­rived. “I wanted to know more about the club, the back­ground to it and why it means so much to the fans. Why it is how it is. “We all get taught about the his­tory of AFC Wim­ble­don when we sign but I wanted to learn more be­hind it, how it was formed and what ex­actly hap­pened back then and I’m re­ally glad I found ev­ery­thing out.”

Spe­cial

Wim­ble­don pro­duce a clever time­lapse of his goal that made it 2-0 mid­way through the sec­ond half af­ter Jake Reeves had pow­ered in the first.

As he runs, beat­ing his chest you can clearly see Tay­lor say the words ‘this is my f ***** g club’.

“Scor­ing a goal which you know means so much to so many peo­ple, it’s un­like any feel­ing when the ball hits the net,” he added.

“I’ve felt ac­com­plish­ment from a young age in many dif­fer­ent things.

“Small things, big things, but there’s noth­ing quite like that.

“It was very, very spe­cial and it was an­other land­mark mo­ment for this fan­tas­tic club. I’m just priv­i­leged to have played a part.”

An­other queue had formed around us.

Smart phones in hand, he still had time to make a mag­i­cal night even bet­ter.

PIC­TURE: Stu­art Butcher/ProS­ports

MY CLUB: AFC Wim­ble­don striker Lyle Tay­lor en­joys his goal against MK Dons, main pic and below In­set, right: He celebrates win­ning the League Two play-off fi­nal against Ply­mouth last term

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